Saturday, February 4, 2023

France’s football president resigns; he is being investigated

PARIS ( Associated Press) – Noël Le Graët agreed Wednesday to step down as president of the French Soccer Federation after an emergency meeting of the body’s executive committee on conduct left him responsible.

Le Graet, 81, has faced allegations of sexual assault, and the federation is the subject of an investigation ordered by French sports minister Amélie Oudea-Castera.

On Wednesday, the federation released a statement saying Le Graët was stepping down, at least until the audit findings are fully reviewed by the executive committee.

This is expected to happen in late January. Until then, Vice President Philippe Diallo will lead the federation on an interim basis.

French football’s governing body said that director general Florence Hardouin has been temporarily suspended to allow an investigation ahead of the final expiry of his contract. No additional details about Hardouin were revealed.

Le Graet recently extended Didier Deschamps’ contract as French national team manager until July 2026 after leading the team to the World Cup final in December. The Executive Committee insisted that it had ratified the agreement.

On Tuesday, sports agent Sony Saud accused Le Graet of years of improper conduct. She claimed that the leader was sexually interested in her.

During an interview with sports daily L’Equipe, Souad said that Le Graët repeatedly tried to contact him from 2013 to 17.

Oudea-Castra put further pressure on Le Graet on Monday, when she accused him of “tarnishing” the country’s image. Patrick Anton, head of the federation’s ethics council, issued a statement on Tuesday urging Le Graet to step down.

Le Graët has had a week full of scandals. In a radio interview, he said that he “could not be less interested” in Zinedine Zidane’s future as a coach. After a wave of criticism for his comments about the former star of the national team, Le Graet apologised.

Le Graët and Hardouin have also held key positions in FIFA and UEFA.

Currently, Le Graët is a candidate for another four-year term on the FIFA Council, the decision-making committee at the world’s top soccer organization. His rival for the post is Fernando Gomes, president of the Portuguese Federation.

The elections are due to be held on April 5, when UEFA’s member states meet in Lisbon.

Hardouin has one seat reserved for women on the UEFA Executive Committee. His administration ends on 5 April in Congress in Lisbon.

She can withdraw her name as a candidate before the deadline of February 5.

Nation World News Desk
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